Mondelēz Global, the parent company of Nabisco has announced a voluntary cookie recall of one of their popular Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies. The April 2019 recall comes after consumers complained of encountering a solidified ingredient while eating the cookies. There are no other products in this cookie recall, but stores will pull several lots of Chewy Chips Ahoy! packages from their shelves.
What is the Solidified Ingredient?
Mondelēz Global initially announced the cookie recall while remaining cryptic about the identity of the solidified ingredient that caused it. Both The Washington Post and The Sacramento Bee reported the snack company ignored their respective requests for more information. Naturally, consumers were alarmed by the response.
Following complaints and requests for information, the manufacturer finally voluntarily disclosed that the solidified ingredient was cornstarch that solidified after failing to incorporate into the cookie batter. While cornstarch is not as threatening as glass, metal, or other particles, the solidified ingredient caused problems of its own.
Injuries Consumers Experienced Before the Cookie Recall
Though somewhat cagey about the reason for the recall, Mondelēz Global was forthcoming from the start that the solidified substance in the cookies had caused harm to customers who, in turn, reported their adverse experience to the company directly.
A spokesperson for the company made a statement in which she acknowledged the “small number of consumers” who reported an injury from eating the cookies, including:
- Dental injury
Neither the company nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published any information about the number of victims or the severity of their injuries related to this cookie recall.
How to Identify the Recalled Cookies
This cookie recall applies to four lots of Chewy Chips Ahoy! Cookies sold in 13 oz. packages. All the packages have the UPC code 0 44000 03223 4 and “best when used by” dates in September 2019 which will appear on packing as the following:
The cookies in these lots are potentially available nationwide. If you have these cookies, you should not eat them. Discard the package or return it to its place of purchase for a full refund.
Mondelēz Global assured consumers none of their other products are included in the recall and should not contain any unexpected ingredients or solidified ingredients.
The Dangers of Hard Objects in Food
As food production methods are increasingly mechanized; instances of hard material or foreign objects in food products have become somewhat rare. Our mothers and grandmothers grew up sifting through beans and lentils at home to remove tiny rocks. Contaminants of this sort are becoming a thing of the past.
Because of its increasing rarity, consumers today are unaccustomed to checking their foods for hard substances or foreign objects before eating them. Regardless of habit, consumers should never find unexpected hard material in a ready-to-eat food like the snacks in this cookie recall.
The FDA calls an extraneous object or foreign material that has the potential to harm consumers a “physical hazard.” The hardened nodules of cornstarch in the Chips Ahoy! cookie recall certainly qualify for that designation. Consumers are in more danger of injury from unexpected solid substances in foods where that texture is a complete surprise.
The recalled cookies are marketed as being “chewy,” and the injuries the snack caused are likely due in large part to how startling it must be to find something hard in a supposedly “chewy” cookie.
The FDA divides contaminants into those larger than 7 mm, and those that are smaller. The federal agency considers any unexpected or foreign substance larger than 7mm to be an adulterant, and smaller particles to only be a danger to high-risk populations like:
- Surgery convalescents
- Elderly adults
Common Causes and Sources of Food Adulterants
The unexpected solidified substance in these Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies was not a foreign object, but rather one of the raw ingredients used in the manufacturing process. Its presence in the final product was likely due to the poor quality of the cornstarch or poorly functioning mixing equipment.
Caking low-quality cornstarch used in the recipe, or neglected maintenance for plant equipment, are a weak explanation to offer to an unfortunate victim. Victims may spend thousands of dollars to repair a broken tooth after biting into an adulterated cookie.
Some of the most common food adulterants that cause illness or injury to consumers are:
- Glass – glass is the most common food adulterant that injures American consumers
- Filth – insects, hair, or animal feces
- Facility equipment
Regardless of FDA standards, public opinion has a low threshold for acceptance of foreign or unexpected materials found in food. The unsettling idea of biting into something hard in a soft cookie is undoubtedly responsible for the considerable media attention this cookie recall is receiving.
The most common food categories in which consumers complain about finding adulterants in food are, in order:
- Soft drinks
- Baby foods
Injuries Food Adulterants Can Cause
The unfortunate consumers who bit into the startlingly hard substance in Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies reported gagging, choking, and dental injuries. However, there are more severe injuries and complications frequently associated with exposure to hard or foreign material in food, including:
- Surgical removal of the object
- Esophageal rupture
- Gastrointestinal organ perforation
- Death – 1,500 Americans die every year after consuming foreign objects
For many consumers, there is also a loss of trust in food manufacturers, which can be difficult to overcome. Consumers trust that the products they buy are safe. When the opposite is true, it can be difficult to make sense of the situation.
Tips for Avoiding Injury
Avoid consuming foreign objects or hard material in foods by being intentional about your snacking. Tips include:
- Pour the portion you wish to consume into a bowl or serve it on a plate.
- Try not to snack while distracted watching TV or playing video games.
- Cut or break apart foods for children or for elderly adults.
- If you know that a certain food is recalled, do not consume it.
- Do not consume foods that are expired, or have been exposed to potential contaminants.
Speak to a Food Recall Attorney
Consumers don’t need to have life-threatening injuries from consuming unexpected hard substances in food to seek legal recourse. A broken tooth or a trip to the hospital because of this cookie recall is sufficient reason to seek legal advice. You may be entitled to compensation for your expenses related to this defective food product.
If you or a member of your family was injured after ingesting the unexpected hard substance in these Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies, contact Bad Food Recall today. Speak with a food recall attorney absolutely free. Complete our online form or call 1-877-534-5750 to find out more.